Arshad back at training after knee surgery

In Sports
March 28, 2024


“I will give my all for Pakistan, till my legs are working, I’ll keep fighting,” says Pakistan’s star athlete Arshad Nadeem who is back into training after his return from the United Kingdom where he received treatment on his right knee.

The Javelin thrower became the first Pakistani to win the World Athletics Championship medal in Budapest last August.

He hit the 87.82 metre mark and directly qualified for the Olympics for the second time in a row, despite the long-standing injury.

He had later decided to skip Asian Games in October 2023 to rest as he had achieved his target of qualifying for the Olympics and for the first time he chose to rest instead of competing with an injury.

Arshad received treatment from Dr Ali Bajwa less than six months before the Paris Olympics and stayed in Cambridge for almost two weeks.

The 27-year-old said he is gradually getting into the training sessions, but he is careful with his knee this time.

He said he would only discover his condition as an elite athlete in a month.

“I am slowly and steadily trying to get back into training, but I’ll only find out about where I stand regarding the Paris Olympics after a month on the field,” Arshad told The Express Tribune. “I had this treatment which was different from the one I had before on my left knee. It was a conventional surgery and I had taken a few weeks to even start putting weight on it.

“This time, the laser surgery had a different result. I can put weight on my knee just in two days,” disclosed Arshad. “I had planned to start throwing slowly, so I’ll see where I truly stand after a month. My goal is to recover in time.”

The Mian Chunnu-based athlete added that he wants to compete in at least one international event before the Olympics, while he hopes to get the training in South Africa for a few weeks as well.

“The international outdoor events start on March 15, so I will want to compete at Diamond League before the Olympics if all goes well,

“I’d like to compete in a few events, then there is also a plan for training in South Africa with the same coach I had trained before, but mostly I will be training in Lahore with coach Salman Butt. He has done so much hard work with me, from the last Olympics when I had an injury to now, he has been with me, making sure I get treatment and everything, if he had not worked hard with me, I don’t think I would have been able to achieve so much.”

When asked if Arshad is anxious about the recovery in time and the entire period that went from August 22, 2023, when he won the silver medal in Budapest to carrying on with the injured knee till now was difficult, his reply was optimistic and a simple one.

“I wasn’t worried, I really have not panicked at all during this time because I have it in me to do my best, I have been competing with injured knees and elbow before.

“Like that right knee was troubling me before the World Championships, but I was careful and managed the training accordingly, I performed accordingly, I got the medal at the World Championships with the injury, before that my left knee was injured too, so I am not worried how I would play, I have always been hopeful, and Allah has helped me.

“I was in Cambridge and got the surgery. I am just hoping to get back in shape in a month. I don’t worry about these things because I have competed at so many events with injury that now I have experience how to handle this.”

When asked about his views on Pakistan’s progress in athletics, he said there is a lot of talent in Pakistan. However, the athletes need a proper training ground dedicated to track and field athletics disciplines, proper gyms, and accessibility to the existing facilities.

“We need facilities, grounds for athletics, the local coaches we worked so hard and give their all but we need international standard coaching and expertise,” said the 2018 Asian Games bronze medallist.
He pointed out the issue that many athletes face during the Pakistan Super League PSL season as non-cricket sportspersons have a challenging time accessing the existing facilities in Lahore.

“Now that the PSL has started, which is also clashing with the schedule for the athletes who are preparing for the international events, it will be so difficult to get to the get to the ground for training.”
“We are all international level athletes who have won accolades for the country, but we usually face this problem that the Punjab ground is not available to train at because there is some university event, or it is closed because of PSL or some school event is happening. So these things matter, it fairly disturbs the athletes,” he lamented.

“We do not ask for much, but it would be nice, not just for me but for others too, if we got the schedule and specific time that we can train on the ground. Till now, in the four years that I have reached the Olympics, this basic need has not been met.

“I train at three places in Lahore, ground, where I train for my technique, then a pool that I have permission to use at Punjab Sports Board facility, and then there is weightlifting training, a gym at the Punjab University, so I do have to go to three places,” explained Arshad.

He said that he still has it easier because people tend to recognise him from the news and that they let him pass. But other athletes have an exceedingly tough time getting through just to train.

In several videos that have been made in previous years, we can see that even at the Punjab Sports Board hostel, the sleeping arrangements for Arshad are appalling. Being a genial person and a patient one at that, Arshad said that he is just grateful for whatever he gets.

“I have just been playing and competing for Pakistan whether they give us anything or not, my target has always been to make Pakistan proud, that’s what I have always done,” said Arshad.

He has barely had any time with his family since his return from England on February 12 and now he is back in Lahore to start the preparations for the Olympics.

‘Break the 32-year drought’

Arshad said that his target has been to win the Olympic medal.

“It has been too long that Pakistan has not won any medal at the Olympics, what was it, 1992 that we won it last in hockey? I am aiming to win that medal really, and I will do all that I can in my power to achieve that,” said the father of two before saying goodbye at the end of the conversation.

There are many things that Arshad would never talk about as he is dedicated to Pakistan, he wants to continue the journey in international athletics, and he is grateful for the opportunity, but there are things that cannot be ignored and it is criminal that they have not been fixed so far.

Observations made so far are not pleasant
The biggest takeaway from Arshad’s journey is that he has an unbreakable spirit, and he has fought against the odds to get to the elite level of international athletics that no one achieved in the country before him despite any professionalism or proper infrastructure provided to him.

He has been able to make history internationally despite being a Pakistani and not because.

This correspondent has learned that Arshad has one international standard javelin which has now become crooked as he has used it for a year now.

It is a painful reality but mostly a shameful one for the government of Pakistan, the private sector that can sponsor him, and the authorities altogether.

Had Arshad been in any other country that prioritised and celebrated incredible feats by Arshad, he would have had at least five to six javelins to train with.

An ideal javelin would be from Nordic, a brand that is rated highly and which he only got to use when he competed in international events.

Right now, Arshad only has one javelin from Nameth, that too a brand he started to use just two to three years ago.

In other scenarios before this Arshad had to train with locally made javelins which are often painful to train with after a while, and they increase the chances of injuries as they strain the shoulder and elbows.

There is no specialised gym for Arshad, it has been more than four years that he has been Pakistan’s main medal hope at the Olympics, continental games, and what have you, but none of the investment came to make his life easy.

There are no specialized grounds, and the athletes still need to wait for their turn to train in government facilities which should be there for them on high priority, instead, they find these grounds closed when they need them to train.

The question is what has Pakistan been giving these incredible young athletes in return?

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